Ben Barba has been sacked by National Rugby League champions Cronulla in the wake of testing positive to cocaine in the days after the Sharks' grand final triumph.
In a statement the club said fullback Barba would be taking time away from the game to address "some significant personal issues".
The club said the former Dally M Medal winner had on Monday night left to attend an intensive overseas rehabilitation program.
"I know and accept I need to take some time away from the game to deal with some personal issues," Barba said in a statement.
"I am accountable for myself and my actions and if I don't address them now I will certainly ruin my career and more importantly my life and that of my family.
"I hope to return to the game at some stage and am very grateful for the support of the Cronulla Sharks and I hope that one day I can again play beside this terrific bunch of guys."
The club's chief executive Lyall Gorman said "this is an incredibly difficult situation for Ben, his family and our club and all involved with it.
"While Ben will be a major loss to our football club, the far greater priority is for him to focus on his long term future away from football and we will continue to support Ben throughout that process in any way we can."
Barba has a history of off-field problems.
He was stood down by former club Canterbury in early 2013 over behavioural issues and missed the first three rounds of the season, spending time at a Sydney health clinic.
Barba admitted to having a severe gambling problem as well as issues with alcohol.
In October, he publicly discussed steps he was taking to quit alcohol.
- AAP, RNZ